#1688 | Friday, September 6th 2002
I live in Toronto and I was typing an assignment for class at home. I had the radio on and someone in New York City had called in about quarter after nine.

While I listened, I thought, "What a horrible morning radio show joke." At that moment, the caller screamed a scream I knew that was genuine. She cried that another plane has hit the World Trade Center. I rushed to the living room, meaning to put on CNN, but the television already had the disaster on NBC.

I continued to watch until long after the buildings collapsed. I consider myself to be a non-racist, but it took me more than a week to get over the anger I felt for the act, and for the street celebrations of the common Palestinians. I still am not ready though to face the anniversary of the tragedy in less than a week's time.

I always thought that the Challenger disaster would be my "day of shock". For those who have seen "New York: A Documentary Film", they would remember a very graphic description of a textile fire. I found that World Trade Center, as well as being a "fresh" disaster, brought back horrible memories from the Triangle fire. Those two fires will always live in my memory.

Aaron | 27 | Canada

#1678 | Friday, September 6th 2002
I remember so clearly where I was. I was on Holiday in New York City with my parents. They had arrived from Australia 2 days earlier. It was supposed to have been the holiday of a lifetime for both of them, especially my father who had wanted to see the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium for at least as long as I can remember. When we woke up on that Tuesday morning, we were so excited because we were going to have a full day of sight seeing before going to see the Yankees that night. We went to breakfast. It was a beautiful day. We walked out from breakfast at 8.45am and were on our way to the Subway to head down town to see the world famous Twin Towers. It was then we were told that a plane had crashed into the side of a building. At that point, we had no idea which building. Someone had pulled over to the side of the road on Broadway and had their radio on which was the first point we realised it was one of the towers. We looked downtown and just saw black smoke billowing skywards.

There was no way it could be real. It had to have been an accident. We went into Macy's to see if there was any more information.....then it happened. The second tower. Everyone around us at that point in time just stopped and looked at each other. We were under attack and had no idea what the hell was happening. Myself and my parents decided we would be better off getting out of everyone's way and going back to our hotel. When we walked out back onto Broadway, the single most sorowful sight I am every likely to witness was in front of me. 100's of people crying, trying to call loved ones on cell phones, pay phones. We went back to the hotel and turned on the television. We had the window open and I had to close it when i realised that what I could smell was burning buildings. We watched on television as the first tower came down......and I could hear the rumble outside. It was the most sureal and terrifying moment of my short life......and then the second tower came down.

We had no idea what to do. We stayed in the hotel for a few hours, pretty much speachless and glued to the television. We eventually went outside and the streets were desserted. Everything was closed. The only noise came from the emergency vehicles flying down Broadway toward Ground Zero.

The next day, we awoke again to another beautiful day, yet the world was a completely different place. There was a huge sense of unease because personally, I still didn't know what was going to happen next.

That night, we had just walked around for a while, when we came across the fire house on W31st street. What I saw, changed my life. Fire trucks that were covered in soot and ash, with pictures of fallen firefighters and flowers all over it. The top of the truck was almost caved in. How they got it back there I'll never know. Then on the side of the street, a lone fireman was sitting, just staring at the sidewalk. I could not even begin to fathom what he had seen or encountered at Ground Zero.

We walked back to our hotel after we had dinner and a a few drinks. I went to go to a store on 5th avenue with my mum when we saw that they had the Empire State Building area taped off. Our hotel was right by it. They said it was just a precautionary method because it was an obvious target. We went back to the hotel and decided to err on the side of caution. We packed a few essential things like wallets, a change of clothes and passports. We didn't expect anything to happen but we thought it better to be prepared. That night, I had so much trouble getting to sleep. I was terrified. It turns out, I had every reason to be scared. Not 5 minutes after thinking this, the emergency system in our hotel was sounded and we had to evacuate the building immediately. I have never changed clothes so fast in my life! We were on the top floor of our hotel and, even though it was only 9 stories, the staircase was spiralled so it was very difficult to know exactly what floor we were on. At one point, I lost sight of both my parents. I was screaming out to them and they were telling me to keep going but there was no way I was leaving without them. People kept streaming by me but it seemed like forever before I saw my parents again.

When we got to the foyer, we all poured out onto the street, where there were police officers and firefighters telling us to keep running and head downtown. We had heard that there was a package in the Empire State Building. At the time we were running down the stairs, all I could think about was those people trying to escape out of the towers. They had no idea what was about to happen and unfortunately, I got a taste of that. We were lucky though. The Empire State Building didn't blow up. It was a false alarm.

Standing out on the street, I thought I could smell something burning nearby. What I was smelling was the World Trade Centre. The wind had changed direction and was blowing the smoke uptown. That is the one thing that is so unbelievably difficult to get out of my senses.

My parents never did get to see that baseball game. It didn't matter. Nothing else mattered. But when they got on their flight 4 days after the attacks, I was so scared. They were flying to Vancouver and I didn't rest until they called me to tell me they were ok. I was still in New York because unlike my parents, I couldn't get on my flight home for a week.

What I saw and experienced during that week will stay with me forever. The amazing generosity of the people in New York touched me. I had people be so kind to me. I was a foreigner and alone at that point. They took me in and looked after me. I remember the day before I was due to fly back home. I hadn't really eaten for about 2 days because the thought of eating just made me want to be sick. Needless to say, I was a little confused. I found myself back at that firehouse on W31st street. I asked one of the firemen who I could give money to. I couldn't give blood or anything like that so giving money was my only option. It was then that I just broke down in tears. These 2 firemen just hugged me, got me a drink and took me into their station. They asked me how long it had been since I'd eaten and then they proceeded to bring out a mountain of food that had been given to them.

I remember I felt like such an idiot and a burden. Here were these amazing men, who'd been witness to the most horrific of circumstances and lost some of their own brothers in the attacks, yet, they were talking to me, asking me about where I came from what I did for a living etc....and they still had a sense of humour! I told them how stupid I felt and that they had bigger things to be worried about than some tourist who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They told me the only stupid thing about it was me thinking it was stupid!

I arrived home with mixed emotions. It was like re-entering a completely different universe.

I've been back to New York since then. I lived in the US for 6 months and went back to New York on several occassions. That is a city with amazing guts and courage and conviction. They will not lie down. The world can learn a thing or two from New Yorkers. I read somewhere that a New Yorker had made the comment "We're New Yorkers. We don't know how to be victims". I can't think of a better way to put it.

I love you New York. You've changed my life forever and there will always be part of me with you.

I know this is long but, this is the first time I've sat down to write about it. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read it.

Trina | 27 | Australia

#1660 | Wednesday, September 4th 2002
My feelings on that day have already been echoed many times on this site before....The disbelief, the shock, the pain...the anger. It is comforting to know that I am not alone in my pain, even now, nearly a year later.
I heard of the events little by little as they unfolded. My first knowledge of it was via a phone call early in the morning, and I watched as the 2nd plane hit, the towers fall, the plane hit the Pentagon, and the crash in PA. I remember being very scared, and thinking "What next..." as I live only 10 minutes north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Part of me could sigh a bit of relief when Bush grounded the planes. I was glued to the TV for days. Every time the image was replayed, I cried a little bit harder, as the enormity of the mass destruction and loss of life sank in. I still can't take it all in-

I am encouraged by the humanity shown by the people of the United States in the weeks, months, even now following those events. The pain will never go away, I fear. We were truly united as one- What an amazing thing to witness. Let us not forget. God Bless America, and all that is right in the world.

Allison | 27 | Texas

#1572 | Monday, August 19th 2002
The pain, even now 11 months later, is still with me. In an odd way, it is comforting to read that others ache as much as I still do. That we're not "over it" yet.

My first knowledge of the horror was heard via a friend of mine. She called, and woke me up. It was my day off from work, so I smiled at the fact that I could sleep in. I turned on the TV, as she requested, and the rest of our conversation was filled with tears and silence. After our conversation was over, I had to call my Mom. There is just something that was SO necessary about hearing your mothers voice. I needed to hear it. I needed a hug even more. I felt a bit of relief when the planes were grounded, as I feared for what might happen next (the Statue of Liberty? The White House? ANYTHING!) I was glued to the TV for days afterward-- with each repeat of the images seeming to hurt more and more, as I realized the magnitude of it. The friends, families...innocent lives stolen from us.

I was comforted, in part, the following weeks by the flags at half staff, the messages of unity on marquis (even the local Whataburger), painted fences, lines to donate and help, that all echoed signs of our collective patriotism. It was like the world had been muted. People were subdued, and traffic seemed to move a little slower than normal. Wierd.

My perfect day, as I know realize, was September 10, 2001. Since then, I see the world, and my life in a new way. I am a better person. I am better friend. I am more patient, and am more tolerent of others. I have learned we are a COUNTRY of heroes, and we really do need each other. But, I still ache....so much... and will forever.

God Bless-

Allison | 27 | Texas

#1537 | Tuesday, August 13th 2002
I was preparing to start work - had arrived at the office and had not yet entered the building when I spotted a couple of my co-worker friends outside talking. They asked if I had heard what happened. I hadn't yet.

They explained that a plane crashed into the World Trade Center in New York and my initial thought was that it must have been a small aircraft off course that just had a freak accident - it wasn't unheard of.

I tried to understand why everyone was so disturbed but I didn't press questions. It seemed so minor.

I listened to the radio between stops in my work van (My job keeps me on the road a good part of it)but realized the potential severity on the way to my first account. It all seemed surreal anyway. What exactly was going on?

My mom then paged me to alert of the goings on (she watched it all unfold on t.v. at home)and I still could not fully comprehend the situation. Details still were sketchy and it seemed staged.

She countered my "small plane" vision with "loaded jetliner" thoughts and that two had attacked the trade center, one hit the pentagon and one went down in a field. I was horrified! My stomach just sank.

The reality didn't fully set in, though, until I went home that night and watched the news footage in shock and feared the impending retaliation. We were going to war.

I'm attempting dramatic personal change in my life since 9/11. The biggest feat is eliminating grudges from my daily routine and practicing more acts of forgiveness toward those I am at odds with. Life is too short.

Derek Jefferies | 27 | Colorado

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